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WITTRA™ IOT Out of the Box - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 8
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 8
Demo Software was of good quality: 8
Product was easy to use: 8
Support materials were available: 8
The price to performance ratio was good: 10
TotalScore: 50 / 60
  • RoadTest: WITTRA™ IOT Out of the Box
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Workshop Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: N/A
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: 1) Labeling each device - The S/N for each Sensor and Mesh-Router are very small. 2) Creating a floor plan for a structure 3) ** NOT WITTRA ISSUE** Uploading photos to element14, most modern-day phones take high res photos which is larger than what element14 allows which makes writing these reports difficult.

  • Detailed Review:

    WITTRA™ IOT Out of the Box

    Features:

         • Complete IoT development platform

         • Pre-certified hardware, ready for field deployment

         • Secure, easy to set up, easy to use

         • 1 Gateway, 3 Mesh Routers, 4 Sensor Tags

         • Rechargeable Tag battery provides months of life

     

    Size of the kit: 480 x 373 x 146mm

    Kit Contains:

         1 x SGW-10 Gateway & 12V Supply

         3 x MTG-10 Mesh Router

         4 x STG-10 Sensor Tags including protection cover

         7 x Sensor Tag Mounting Cradles

         7 x Sensor Tag Velcro Straps

         1 x Reset Plug

         4x 5V Power supplies (3 Mesh Router & 1 Sensor Tag)

         1x External Antenna

         1x OTG Adapter

         2x Release Key

     

    Introduction:

     

    The WITTRA IOT Out Of the Box is a wireless sensor kit that utilizes a cloud-based (subscription plan) API that can be deployed on a site to monitor objects. These devices can function in tough environments such as industrial sites and areas with weak connectivity. It uses sub-GHz frequency bands which allows the signal to penetrate dense building infrastructure. This kit utilizes HTTPS, DTLS for security. HTTPS is an extension of the HTTP protocol. HTTPS communication is encrypted using Transport Layer Security (TLS).  DTLS is a communications protocol providing security to datagram-based applications by allowing them to communicate in a way designed to prevent eavesdropping, tampering, or message forgery.

     

    Initial thoughts:

     

    1) The kit was well protected during shipping, it was cushioned inside two boxes with the hard plastic case.

         a) The kit case is obviously designed for tough environments such as a construction site and industrial workplace.

              **NOTE: Performed drop test from 4.5 feet and one "tab" opened up which caused some contents inside of the case to fall out of place (see image below). ** To solve this either the user can use some sort of a lock or redesign the case. Using a Pelican case would also solve this problem.

    2) The kit came with all necessary cables besides an ethernet cable.

     

    Setting up the devices:

     

    1. Unpacked all necessary charging equipment and removed the tags for charging. I left them charging for the recommended 3 hrs which gave all tags a complete charge.
    2. Once all tags were fully charged I attempted to update them (See photos below). The updating process is quite different than anything I have ever done before, with the micro-USB port protection cover off, place the included magnet on the device. It should be placed roughly in the area indicated by the picture below. With the magnet in place, insert the OTG adapter into the micro-USB port and then remove it again. This method is called the "manual update" is the faster one (approximately 2 minutes, which I verified when updating mine), but is limited in range and requires manual intervention (reboot the device in manual update mode). This method of updating would be difficult on a site because it requires the technician to remove the device and bring it within range (5m) of the gateway device. The manual update is faster than the automatic update which could take upwards of 24hrs. The automatic update nodes will be automatically upgraded over 6LoWPAN. There is no need to gather the devices nor reboot them into manual update mode. Note that this procedure is significantly slower.

    Updating tag

     

    To remove the protective cap on top of the tag WITTRA provides an east tool where the user will attack it to the tag and push towards the tag and the top will pop off, shown in the photo below.

     

     

         3. Once all tags were charged and updated I wanted to get the gateway setup and running. This consists of:

          • Mounting the antenna on top of the gateway. This is a great antenna as it allows for directional movement. It doesn't limit the user to one direction which makes placing/mounting the gateway easier.
          • Opening up the gateway to access the internals requires the user to press the two metal clips on the bottom of the casing, be careful not to pinch your thumb.
          • Once opened (shown below) plug in an Ethernet network cable in the gateway. NOTE: Ethernet cable is not included in the kit.
          • Connect the 12V Power Supply shown in the photo below. It took about 3 minutes for the Gateway to boot.

                             

         4. The next step I took was logging into the portal. The portal can be accessed by going to https://portal.wittra.se/

      • Users must set up a subscription-based account, I was able to get a few months of free service for this roadtest.
      • This should be taken into account when pondering the idea of using this platform.
      • The portal is where the user will be able to check the status of all WITTRA devices and information. This portal is basically command central.
      • My initial thoughts on the portal were that it's very user-friendly. It's not overinflated with options and user inputs. The image below show shows what I was greeted with when I first logged in. I created a project called "Element14 Test". You can see the project under the projects tab on the left side called the "Side Panel". This means the technician offsite could have multiple projects being managed at once. This makes it easy for staffing.

               

      • Next, I started adding my devices to my project, originally I started to enter them manually one tag at a time which was very cumbersome. I decided to read the excellent documentation found here. WITTRA hats off to you, the documentation is extremely useful and simple to follow. There's a great future included in each kit known as "batch token". This token is located inside of the case under where the gateway is housed. This token will allow all devices contained inside the kit to be registered. This token saves a lot of time.
      • The top bar in the portal contains a "?" symbol which links the user with guides and walkthroughs for troubleshooting.
      • The Side panel not only lists the project but on the bottom, there is an admin view where the user can manage user permissions, organization information, and billing.
      • On the main dashboard, there is a map function where the user can get an overview of where all the devices are on a job site.
      • The "Devices" tab provides a list of all devices and their statuses, this is also where the user can control the updates to each device.
      • WITTRA includes an easy-to-notice firmware status for each device.
        • Green: Firmware is up-to-date and the system version is the most recent version
        • Blue: Device firmware is up-to-date with the system version
        • Blue with percentage: The device is undergoing an automatic firmware update
        • Yellow: Device firmware is outdated
      • The Integrations allows for webhooks (not explored here)
      • The network tab shows the overall architecture of the mesh network
      • Settings tab lets the user configure the system

    The above photo shows the moment after I uploaded the "Batch Token". You can see the mesh router in blue and the tags in red. One issue I found difficult was figuring out which tag is which after they were labeled, there should be a way for the physical tag or router to be identified with what's in the portal. The S/N are printed on the devices but are very small.

    Once all devices were inserted into the portal you will get a project layout like shown above. You will see 1 gateway, 3 mesh routers, and 4 tags which were in one kit. Now, these numbers will change depending on the size of the project.

    The above image shows the "Quick Configuration". The user is able to assign each device a name, group, and color code. Which makes the devices easy to find on the portal as long as the user places the intended devices correctly. I could see this being an issue without putting some sort of tape or sticker on each mesh router/tag for identification.

    The above screenshot shows what the tag records, I attached this tag to my John Deere tractor on my site. These tags record several data points including accelerometer, gyro, magnetometer, battery %, Temperature, Movement, and the ability to add on more options.

     

    The above image shows another view of the dashboard when all of the devices are running. It gives the user plenty of information on the devices. The name, power, last seen, last boot, firmware, and actions are included.

     

     

    Conclusion(s):

     

    This kit would be extremely useful in a permanent industrial setting, these tags are easy to mount using the provided straps or industrial tape. A permanent setting would allow a team of technicians to continuously monitor the dashboard. I could see this kit being used in a construction site setting but it requires the company to hire someone to set up, deploy, and monitor the system. The biggest issue with this setting would be updating all the devices. This could be solved by creating an app for a cellphone or tablet so the technician doesn't have to be at a desk to continue monitoring. Another interesting option would be to set up some sort of an "alert" text or email to be sent out if a device goes out of range or if the device fails to communicate with the gateway. This could be a workaround to having a technician continually monitoring devices.

     

    Another issue I had was updating the devices, some tags would take longer than others, I had an issue with one tag where it wouldn't update at all or communicate with the portal. I tried several different troubleshooting methods. At this point, if I was a subscribed user I would have contacted WITTRA support to open up a support ticket.

     

    Overall, I believe this product is ready to go into production and for it to be utilized in an industrial setting. I believe the documentation is great, it's very simple to use and to understand.

    The biggest addition would be a mobile app to go along with this system. Nice job WITTRA.


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